The New Luxury - Maarten Schafer

What is it?

This is something we have observed on our recent travels through South-East Asia: the rise of a new Asian luxury market. In the past, few people in Asia weren’t able to afford to shop at global luxury brands like Louis Vuitton, Hermes or Prada. But as incomes rise, so is demand, and Asia’s luxury market is thriving.

Is that changing the street scene in Asia’s big cities?

Definitely. Bangkok now even has a series of ‘luxury malls’ which are trying to compete with the Champs Elysées in Paris and London’s
Regent Street. Cities like Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur are now vying to become not just regional, but global shopping destinations. Luxury malls, boutiques and flagship stores selling haute couture, accessories, bags and cases, cosmetics and fragrances, vehicles, utility gadgets, beverages and interior decoration products are everywhere.

What’s more, and what’s more interesting to us, is that it’s not just European luxury brands but also local brands tapping into this trend. As you walk down the street here in Bangkok you first have the impression that it’s wall-to-wall Chanel, Givenchy, Ralph Lauren and Burberry, but look a bit closer and you also find cool local designers pushing their way to the front row. We even discovered an entire mall dedicated to up-and- coming local designer brands.

So how big is this trend?

It’s huge and set to grow further. The Asia Pacific region currently accounts for over one third of the global luxury goods market and the region is expected to account for nearly half of total global luxury goods sales in coming years.

Watch this space and get ready to rethink your destination when you book your next shopping holiday!

Maarten Schafer

In recent years, I have also observed the growth of the ‘reputation economy’, which has changed the game in my favour. When I reach out to people who don’t know me, the first thing they do is to Google me. The results that show up on the search results make up what we call my ‘online personal reputation’.
As I write about my travel experiences and publish these pieces online, people can get a clear picture of my vision, my achievements and my passion within minutes.

The people I meet are C-level people or business owners. Most of them have an excellent ‘real world’ reputation. But when people Google them, the search results are irrelevant, outdated or, even worse, totally non-existent. When they see how I have built my online reputation, they immediately ask me to help them create theirs.

So I tell them that the first thing they have to do is to stop hiding behind job titles and company profiles. We’re in a new area where people want to connect with people and what they stand for. People want to do business with you, not for what you do, but for why you do it.

I sit down with them and we discuss their vision and their passion. I write their story and publish it online, making sure it will pop up on Google.

I tell them that with the rise of the reputation economy over the coming years our ‘online personal reputation’ may become the most important asset we have.

Maarten Schäfer is Story Architect,
Author Around the World in 80 Brands and co-founder CoolBrands & CoolBrands People

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